Truth serum: how serums won a place in our beauty regimes

Serums aren’t new but a lot of people remain unsure of their benefits and how to use them

Boots No7 serum

The first generation of facial serums hit the market and landed on beauty editors’ desks in the mid-1990s and, at first, some weren’t too sure why they should use them. Surely cleansing, toning, moisturising and a layer of SPF were enough? Did we really need another product?

Subsequent scientific tests have shown that not only have serums earned their place in our beauty regimes, but improved formulations have made them even more hard-working. In 2007, BBC’s Panorama team made a documentary that independently tested various skincare products and discovered a high-street serum that made a drastic improvement in wrinkles and skin tone. And better yet, that serum delivered better results than many of the incredibly expensive creams on the market at the time.  

The phenomenon that was No7 Protect & Perfect Serum made news headlines worldwide and had customers queuing out the doors of Boots to get a tube of this magic elixir. The result became the catalyst for millions of women adding a serum to their regime and becoming converts to the skin rejuvenation prowess of serums. 
Unlike moisturisers, serums are designed to intensively target the key signs of ageing, such as wrinkles, loss of firmness and uneven skin tone. Renowned Dublin dermatologist, Dr Katherine Mulrooney, has a great analogy for explaining what serums are. “Think of a cordial drink, and the serum as the concentrate, whereas moisturiser would be the juice and the water together,” says Dr Mulrooney.

Within this concentrate is a cocktail of active skin ingredients like vitamins, antioxidants (which mop up all the daily damage) and peptides (skin’s building blocks) which intensively target the key signs of ageing, such as wrinkles, loss of firmness and uneven skin tone. Better still, as serums are so light in texture, they can penetrate through dermal layers quickly and are rapidly absorbed.

Moisturiser, on the other hand, contains a much lower ratio of these actives and antioxidants and they’re mixed in with emollients, humectants, water and oils to seal in hydration.  Better still, as serums are so light in texture, they can penetrate through dermal layers quickly and are rapidly absorbed.

“Splurge on serum, scrimp on the rest,” is the advice of Dr Mulrooney. As the popularity of serums has increased, so too has their repertoire. Initially, serum formulas were one size fits all, but now we have higher functioning formulas targeting specific problems – age spots, skin texture, lines, dehydration, lack of volume and neck slackness.
To get the most from a serum, it’s important to choose a formula relevant to your specific ageing concerns and don’t be afraid to mix them up: For example, you might use a hydrating formula in the morning with hyaluronic acid, which acts as a water magnet to keep skin cells plump and smooth all day and a lifting forumla at night with amino acids and ceramides - to help restore and combat crepiness.

No7 uses Matrixyl 3000 Plus anti-ageing peptides in its serums which, combined with pro-vitamin A, help restore more youthful looking skin. The serums also combine a complex of antioxidants, alfalfa and rice peptides.

Regardless of the formula you choose, serums are best used after a cleanser and under moisturiser in the mornings (it’s also good skin practice to always follow morning moisturiser with a layer of SPF). At night, you can wear it alone or layer it  under your night cream or a face oil. And as the formulas are so light you can often use them instead of an eye cream. They’re very effective on the neck and décolletage area, as this skin area can be very thin, so they get to work without weighing the area down. 

Choosing the right serum for you:

Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced – ages 30+
The first serum clinically proven to deliver anti-wrinkle results that get even better over time. It is ideal for anyone looking to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

Lift & Luminate Triple Action serum – ages 45+ 
Clinically proven to deliver three age-defying results: It reduces the appearance of wrinkles and gives firmer looking skin.

Restore & Renew Face & Neck Multi-Action serum – ages 60+
No7’s first serum to deliver clinically proven age-defying results for the face and neck. It reduces the appearance of wrinkles, gives firmer feeling skin, a more even skin tone, and a firmer feeling, smoother and less crepey neck.

You’ll notice the payoff from serums quickly in improved skin texture and tone. But it’s not just instant gratification, as one of the first formulations from No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced serum, is clinically proven to deliver anti-ageing results that get even better over time. A win-win for skin. 

Discover your perfect serum: http://www.boots.ie/no7-skin-care-advice-centre/protect-perfect-advanced